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200 × 150 × 18 mm
132 pages
109 illustrations, 90 in colour
01 Nov 2013
Art since the 80s

Playing at Home The House in Contemporary Art Gill Perry

‘There’s no place like home’; ‘safe as houses’; ‘home is where the heart is’: ideas of the house and home are rich in cultural clichés and contradictory meanings. Playing at Home explores the different ways in which artists have engaged with this popular everyday theme – from ‘broken homes’ to haunted houses, doll’s houses, mobile homes and greenhouses. The book considers how issues of gender, identity, class and place can overlap and interact in our relationships with ‘home’, and how certain artworks disturb our comfortable ideas of what it means to be ‘at home’.

While other books have touched on examples of the ‘uncanny’ and surreal presentation of houses in art, this one argues that an understanding of the role of irony and play, and the critical potential of the ‘everyday’, are equally important in our interpretations of these intriguing works. The author draws on the work of philosophers, cultural theorists and art critics to enrich our understanding of this genre. Covering the work of well-known artists, including Tracey Emin, Gordon Matta-Clark, Rachel Whiteread, Cornelia Parker, Vito Acconci, Michael Landy, Richard Wilson, Mike Kelley and Louise Bourgeois, the book also looks at artists who travel across continents, for whom home is a shifting notion, such as Do-Ho Suh and Pascale Marthine Tayou. Discussing a wide range of media, including installation and film, and richly illustrated, Playing at Home is a compelling survey of one of contemporary art’s popular themes.

‘Gill Perrys fascinating book considers what makes a house a home and why artists are repeatedly drawn to it as a motif. Chapters look at particular types of houses, from those that are haunted to beachside retreats and caravans. Rachel Whitereads House (1993) and Michael Landys Semi-Detached (2004) make appearances, and this well-illustrated volume goes on to include a wide range of art from around the globe.’ — Art Quarterly

‘Perrys ability to read a work of art, and explain it accessibly while still honouring the artists often complex intentions, is both rare and valuable. For this alone Playing at Home is welcome.’ — TLS

‘Perry has written a scholarly, readable and time survey of an important theme. This book reminds us of the capacity of art to deepen our understanding of a contested, contentious concept whose centrality to the way we live today will not have escaped anyone living in Europe during the recent elections.’ — The Art Newspaper

‘Peppered with clear, mostly color photographs, the seven chapters, introduction, and conclusion interpret houses as interactive spaces permitting exploration and experimentation . . . exhibits use the house to express environmental concerns, cultural experiences, nostalgia, or other aspects of life, and ultimately raise questions that could redefine the way we look around us. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘Perry frames artists exhibiting in Britain, Europe, and America and their explorations of the representational form of the house or home as an image and a subject in installation art. She interrogates the house and home as either a spatial configuration or representation, utilizing theoretical models ranging from phenomenology to feminism . . . with 45 color plates and 75 halftone illustrations, it is an excellent resource for anyone interested in a detailed overview of selected themes about the house and home in contemporary art.’ — The Woman's Art Journal

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Gill Perry is Professor of Art History at the Open University, UK. Her books include Women Artists and the Parisian Avant-garde (1995), Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre, 1768–1820 (2007) and Themes in Contemporary Art (editor, 2004).

Family Traces
Scaled Down
Broken Homes
Beach Houses
Haunted Houses
Green Houses
Mobile Homes
Conclusion: Our House?

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements